01 November 2011

Interview with Andrew Erickson by David Axe in The Diplomat “A New Space Race?”

David Axe, interview with Andrew Erickson, A New Space Race? The Diplomat, 1 November 2011.

Andrew Erickson, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, is known for his views on Chinese aerospace and naval capabilities. His latest edited volume is entitled: ‘Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles.’

Erickson holds a distinct viewpoint concerning tensions between the U.S. and China in space. In this exclusive interview with The Diplomat, he argues for a more conservative approach – one that takes into account the unique vulnerabilities of space systems.

You seem wary of policymakers viewing space as a “panacea” for the U.S. military as it tries to balance China. How should policymakers view space?

[Andrew Erickson:] Since the 1980s, the U.S. military has progressively increased its reliance on unrestricted access to the space commons. This dependence is a double-edged sword. The conflicts the U.S. has waged thus have all been against adversaries that were unable to challenge this critical linchpin. China is a great power with a very different level of capability. In developing jamming, anti-satellite (ASAT), and directed-energy weapons, China is accruing capabilities to compromise and harm U.S. space assets to a degree not seen since the Soviet Union confronted the U.S. in the Cold War.

One of a wide variety of reasons that U.S.-China conflict should be avoided if at all possible is that it would be extremely detrimental to both parties and the rest of the world given the two nations’ ability to harm both each other and the fragile environment of space. At the same time, the U.S. must protect its interests, allies, and friends, as well as global norms. This will be a difficult balancing act, particularly as China (like Russia) seeks to limit the U.S. military’s exploitation of space by promoting “anti-weaponization” policies in the U.N. and other fora, while at the same time pursuing ground-based systems designed precisely to achieve some of the very effects in space that it decries. This Janus-faced effort should not go unquestioned, and the U.S. must prepare deterrent and defensive measures accordingly.

Despite their differing rhetoric, both the U.S. and China are already able to fight through space and have developed capabilities to fight into space. Neither would benefit significantly from attempting to fight from space, and it is in both their interests to avoid fighting in space.

Today, U.S. policy-makers must view space comprehensively as a vital medium, primarily to support peacetime activities and deterrence, but — in a worst-case scenario — to support wartime activities as well. This requires developing and maintaining a complex portfolio of assets with very different roles, strengths, and weaknesses. Survivability and functionality are very different in peacetime and wartime, and “one size fits all” standards and objectives should not be imposed across the board. Not everything needs to be geared to high-intensity conflict with a near-peer; fortunately, this is a low-probability contingency, albeit one whose very possibility casts a penumbra of strategic deterrence. This penumbra makes strategic competition and deterrence matter in peacetime. It makes Sino-American great power relations promising yet often problematic. It makes it necessary to discuss frankly difficult issues like the potential for hostilities in space. …

Click here for more information on the book mentioned: Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein, eds., Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011).

To watch a webcast presentation of the book, see Andrew S. Erickson, “Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles,” Eight Bells Book Lecture, Naval War College Museum, 8 September 2011.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

China’s aircraft carrier program is already making major waves well before the first ship has even been completed. Undoubtedly, this development heralds a new era in Chinese national security policy. While Chinese Aerospace Power presents substantial new insight on that particular question, its main focus is decidedly broader in scope. This book offers a comprehensive survey of Chinese aerospace developments, with a concentration on areas of potential strategic significance previously unexplored in Western scholarship. It also links these developments to the vast maritime battlespace of the Asia-Pacific region and highlights the consequent implications for the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Navy.

The possibility of a future Chinese expeditionary force operating off Africa under the protective umbrella of carrier aircraft is not without consequence for the global strategic balance. However, a simpler set of aerospace systems, from microsatellites to unmanned aerial vehicles to ballistic and cruise missiles are already challenging U.S. maritime dominance in East Asia. Cumulatively, progress in all major aerospace dimensions by various elements of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) signifies a new period in which Chinese forces are now decisively altering the complexion of the military balance in the East Asian littoral.

While many articles and books have previously been written on Chinese aerospace development and many more discuss future U.S. naval strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, no other book connects the two issues, simultaneously evaluating the Chinese aerospace challenge and its implications for U.S. naval strategy.

Chinese Aerospace Power offers both broad strategic context for the lay reader and considerable insights for even the most well-informed specialists, with no fewer than five chapters devoting coverage to significant aspects of China’s development of a “carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).

Publication date: July 2011

512 pp., 2 b/w photos, 15 illustrations, 6” x 9”

ISBN: 978-159114-241-6

Political Science, International Relations

This is the fifth volume in the Naval Institute Press series “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development” published jointly by the China Maritime Studies Institute and the Naval Institute Press. Click here for information regarding previous volumes in the series.

China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power

 Edited by Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Nan Li

ISBN: 978-1-59114-243-0

China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in Comparative Historical Perspective

Edited by Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Carnes Lord

ISBN: 978-1-59114-242-3

China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies

Edited by Gabriel B. Collins, Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and William S. Murray

ISBN: 978-1-59114-330-7

China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force

Edited Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, William S. Murray, and Andrew R. Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-59114-326-0

Andrew S. Erickson is an associate professor in the U.S. Naval War College’s Strategic Research Department and a founding member of its China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI). He is an Associate in Research at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and a Fellow in the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program.

Lyle J. Goldstein is an associate professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College, and the founding director of the department’s China Maritime Studies Institute. He is proficient in Chinese and Russian, and has published widely in scholarly journals on China, Russia, Central Asia, and surface and undersea warfare.

BLURBS

“In this edited volume, Erickson and Goldstein provide us with a comprehensive survey of China’s ongoing efforts to shift the military balance in the Western Pacific decisively in its favor through the development and application of aerospace power as it pertains to the maritime competition. Drawing upon primary research and Chinese sources, this volume will be a valuable and timely addition to the libraries of those with an interest in this issue of growing geostrategic importance.”

—Dr. Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, author of 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores the Changing Face of War in the 21st Century

“This coverage of this book is at once broad and deep. It serves well as an introduction to advances in Chinese maritime aerospace technology, and it will also reward expert readers looking for the latest update on these evolving capabilities. Many readers will be surprised by the extent of Chinese progress described by the contributors to this work. Assembling evidence from a necessarily diverse range of sources, they detail the strategic as well as the technical issues that are shaping the Chinese military establishment as it looks beyond the country’s shores, and they examine how it will develop in coming years and decades.”

—Bradley Perrett, Asia-Pacific bureau chief, Aviation Week, Beijing

Chinese Aerospace Power is an excellent and very readable overview of China’s impressive advances in almost every aspect of air and space operations. Not only have the Chinese developed impressive technical capabilities, but they have also given careful thought to the operational concepts associated with them. There is no reason that China must be an enemy of the United States, but it would be folly on our part if we were to lose to China the across-the-board technology lead that has been vital to our national security for well over a half century. This is a must read for anyone with a concern for American or Chinese military affairs.”

—Col. John A. Warden III, USAF (Ret.), Gulf War I planner, president of Venturist, Inc., author of The Air Campaign and Winning in FastTime

Chinese Aerospace Power arrives on the scene as the United States is facing declining resources for defense while the Chinese are realizing rapid expansion of its military capabilities in the aerospace and maritime domains. Andrew Erickson and Lyle Goldstein yield timely insight into how these two trends are evolving in these arenas. Resolving the security objectives of the United States and China in the Pacific—and around the world—requires that policymakers and military strategists understand the reality of Chinese military capability, experiences, and perspectives. This work provides that insight and is a must read as Chinese aerospace development is significantly altering the character of the military and political balance in the Pacific.”

—Lt. General David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), former USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance

“Absolutely the most important book on air and space power I’ve had the pleasure to read. The power of this detailed survey of Chinese Aerospace Power is doubled because it presents both an intelligent American analysis and an insightful view of the ‘Chinese perception’ of the situation. Our two nations have much in common, but the understanding this difference in perception is essential to our selection of our future alternatives. A must have book!”

—Col. Walter J. Boyne, USAF (Ret.), National Aviation Hall of Fame honoree and former director of the National Air and Space Museum, author of Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the U.S. Air Force, 1947-2007

“China’s air and space development is an area of significant interest for the U.S. Navy. This book elucidates the critical linkage between China’s military aerospace and maritime capabilities. Whereas China’s rapid progress has already rendered many other studies obsolete, this volume connects the latest ‘data point’ dots and puts them in strategic context. Navy leaders and planners should read it today.”

—Admiral Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command

REVIEWS

“This volume has numerous strengths. Its greatest contribution to existing literature is that it uses a great deal of open source Chinese based literature to add credence to the authors ideas. …  The work assembles … an all-star cast of scholars to discuss one of the most timely security studies subjects of the 21st century. … When considered as a whole or in part, this work should give US strategic planners a moment of pause. Erickson and Goldstein have created a volume that is balanced, dense in scope but still readable and enjoyable. Combined with the assemblage of a ‘who’s who’ in Chinese security studies, the appeal of such a work is hard to deny. This volume should serve as the textbook to any security studies student who wishes to gain a scholarly perspective on China’s aerospace and military rise to power from a maritime perspective. It is a work I will keep close at hand for years to come.”

—Harry Kazianis, “Review: Chinese Aerospace Power, Evolving Maritime Roles,” 5 Stars, e-International Relations, 6 September 2011.

“… despite the numerous one-off articles, there hasn’t until now been a place in English that brings together all the pieces of the puzzle. That is until the recent publication by the China Maritime Studies Institute of Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles. The volume… offers a comprehensive overview of all the latest developments, and touches on the whole spectrum of the Chinese aerospace capabilities…. The essays, from some of the most highly regarded analysts in the field, help provide a good understanding of the state of Chinese aerospace modernization. The book not only examines the technical feasibility of Chinese plans, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, but also delves deep into domestic Chinese debates about the weapons systems in question. The volume manages to get to the core of the issue through open source analysis that compares and contrasts Chinese writings on the topic from a variety of official and unofficial sources, offering a far broader perspective than volumes focusing only on Western analysis. Indeed, Chinese Aerospace Power delves deeply into the Chinese system, examining inter-service rivalries and integration and training issues. … The book is a must-read piece for every government official involved with China-related issues, military or otherwise. If knowing your interlocutor is a prerequisite for successful negotiations, the book should be a big step towards providing a balanced and necessary understanding.”

—Eleni Ekmektsioglou, “Understanding China,” The Diplomat, 26 August 2011.

“…this book was astonishing. …Almost everyone of the paper was informative (make that eye-opening)… Kudos to the authors and editor. But the heart of the book for a novice like myself was the realization of what the Chinese Second Artillery Corps has pulled off. Terminally guided precision Anti Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBM) have essentially made our carriers obsolete for a war-time Taiwan mission in the Western Pacific. The PLAAF cruise missile, fighter and air defense systems are impressive. All of it feels like the Soviet reconnaissance/strike package implemented by a country that has its act together. This book should be required reading by every staffer in Washington.”

—Tech Historian, “Outstanding! A Must Have on Your Shelf,” 5 Star Rating, Amazon.com, 23 August 2011.

“In the past, I have found works by Andrew Erickson, Lyle Goldstein and the good folks at China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) to be of the highest quality and this book was no exception. … It does a great job of understanding China’s motivations/intentions, while fairly examining PLA’s capabilities and training. For those seeking for a greater understanding of China’s air force, space development and Second Artillery Command, I think this is a must read. … On top of that, I was pleasantly surprised by all of the new information/analysis that I found in this book regarding China’s ASBM program. I have read many differently analyses on ASBM (including several by CMSI), but this book really provided a much more comprehensive look than anything else I have read. The discussions on subjects like conflict escalation of ASBM, hard kill vs soft kill and non-carrier targets were very refreshing. So, for all those who are interested in learning more about China’s Air Force, space development and Second Artillery, I think this book would be an excellent read.”

Feng, “Review of Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles,” Information Dissemination, 16 August 2011.

“…the papers presented by this installation are of the highest quality with primary Chinese sources. They are written by the most respected authorities on the subject…. While unveiling fancy new equipment can generate headlines, the press generally doesn’t ask the deeper question of how new equipment may change existing PLA doctrine or examine potential implications. This is where the good folks from the CMSI come in and provide analyses that are lacking in the blogosphere….”

China Defense Blog, 31 July 2011.

“A useful analysis of Chinese air power, especially with regards to the sea. Balanced and highly technical, the book aims neither to hype nor downplay PLA capabilities.”

—David Axe, “Useful Analysis,” 4 Star Rating, Amazon.com, 28 July 2011.

“…Beijing has a brutally simple—if risky—plan to compensate for [its] relative weakness: buy missiles. And then, buy more of them. All kinds of missiles: short-range and long-range; land-based, air-launched and sea-launched; ballistic and cruise; guided and ‘dumb.’ Those are the two striking themes that emerge from Chinese Aerospace Power….”

—David Axe, “China’s Plan to Beat U.S.: Missiles, Missiles and More Missiles,” Danger Room, Wired.com, 27 July 2011.

Japanese summary now available: 中国の航空宇宙パワー海洋任務への発展.

概 説

中国の空母計画は、一番艦が完成する前に大きな波紋を十分に齎しつつある。疑いなく、この開発は中国の国家安全保障政策に新しい時代の到来を告げるものだ。

一方、この本は、特定の質問に対して十分に新しい洞察力を示し、その焦点は、はっきりとより広い知的範囲にある。

中国の航空宇宙パワーは、以前には西洋の学問が未踏であった戦略的分野に焦点を置き、中国の航空宇宙開発の包括的な調査を試みている。

また本書は、これらの開発をアジア-太平洋地域における広大な海洋戦域にリンクさせ、米軍、特に米海軍に対する結果としての影響について強調している。
著者について

アンドリュー・エリクソンとライル・J・ゴールドスタインは米国海軍大学の戦略研究部准教授であり、中国海洋研究所の発起人である。彼らは、「中国、米国及び21 世紀のシーパワー」及び「中国は海へ進出」を含む幾つかの書籍を共著している。